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Articles: Assessment

Students at George Armstrong Elementary School in the Chicago Public Schools get lessons about money and finance. They learn about earning income and how to play a stock market game.

As today’s students find themselves deciding money matters long before adulthood, progressive districts are introducing financial literacy lessons in elementary and middle grades—with some requiring high school students to complete a personal finance program to graduate.

Mark D. Benigni is the superintendent of Meriden Public Schools. Miguel A. Cardona is the district’s performance and evaluation specialist.

Meriden, Connecticut, is a struggling, former industrial city, once known for its silver manufacturing, lamp producers, military product development, and automotive component assembly plants.

We were both born there, to parents who had little more than each other and a dream for their children. We were poor. We were the statistic.

Yet, just as we were unleashed from the grip of poverty, so too can millions of other children break free. We chose education as a profession because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

Predictive analytics is becoming more common in both public- and private-sector hiring.

Big data and analytics now offer districts some clues about which teacher candidates will be the most effective in the classroom.

These programs are designed to accurately gauge the impact teacher candidates will have on student test scores. Analytics companies such as TeacherMatch and Hanover Research are working with hundreds of districts nationwide to aid in the hiring process.

Arizona and North Dakota in January became the first two states requiring high school graduates to take a U.S. citizenship exam.

Legislators in 14 others states recently introduced similar initiatives in a what’s been labeled as an effort to better prepare students to participate in a democratic society.

Sharon Jacobs and Paulita Musgrave from Washington Montessori School in Greensboro, N.C. share the ASCD’s 2015 Legislative Agenda with Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) during ASCD’s Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy in Washington, D.C.

Education advocacy group ASCD is calling for a two-year moratorium on using standardized test results for teacher or school evaluations. The move represents a growing push nationally to cut back on testing and limit its use as an accountability measure because it may not accurately reflect a teacher’s classroom performance.

As debate over the Common Core continues to spread in major media outlets, local administrators must address parent and community concerns to keep the focus on student learning.

“The need for parent communication with the Common Core caught many administrators by surprise, because this idea of having standards and revising curriculum isn’t new for district administrators,” says Sandra Alberti, director of field impact at Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit started by Common Core creators to help educators implement the standards.

New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey students can benefit from switching up where they do homework, or even changing the music they listen to while studying.

In his book How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, New York Times science reporter Benedict Carey examines well-worn advice about learning, only to find much of it misguided or outdated. Instead, recent research shows that sometimes contradictory study techniques may actually lead to greater success in the classroom.

Mia Dubosarsky, director of PD at The STEM Education Center at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, helps teachers teach science.

From designing more creative and flexible science classrooms to developing community service projects that engage girls in STEM, this year’s National Science Teachers Association conference in March is all about K12 students connecting learning to the real world. Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and an accompanying push for hands-on learning is bringing new ways to think about integrating science—and scientific thinking—into everyday experiences.

The testing boycott has begun: In November, thousands of Colorado high school students refused to take the state’s new science and social studies exams in a widespread protest against the amount of classroom time devoted to standardized testing, according to published reports.

Common Core supporter Sonja Santelises, a vice president at the Education Trust, says political uncertainty over the standards could destabilize classrooms.

Praised and pilloried at both ends of the political spectrum, the Common Core State Standards—and the years-long effort to establish national benchmarks for student learning—will pass a crucial milestone in 2015, when 11.5 million American schoolchildren finally tackle Common Core-linked math and English tests.

Educators and thought leaders offer forecasts for technology, instruction, administration and assessments.

To help our readers navigate the coming year in K12 education, District Administration proudly presents its first-ever Year Ahead edition. In-depth stories on the major trends reshaping classrooms this year feature insights on technology, instruction, administration and assessments. Educators and experts also weigh in on how districts can find funding to support initiatives in all these areas.

Scott McLeod is the author of the popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog.

A photo on Scott McLeod’s popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog carries the caption, “We’re so busy doing 20th century teaching, we don’t have time to initiate 21st century learning.” McLeod, an associate professor of educational leadership, is concerned that an education system that doesn’t embrace technology won't prepare students to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

Timothy Purnell is superintendent and Timothy Teehan is academic achievement officer for Somerville Public Schools.

Massachusetts has led the nation with the top National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for the fifth consecutive time on fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics assessments.

While we realize that unknown variables are part of the equation, it was this statistical preeminence that led us to send a team from Somerville Public Schools in New Jersey to the Northbridge School District in Massachusetts to investigate instructional practices.

Kent Scribner, in middle, celebrates witih Camelback High School students at their graduation last spring. He focuses on not just graduating students, but having them be prepared for college and life.

You could say it’s understandable that Kent Scribner’s hobby is working on a 1985 black El Camino. Refurbishing a car takes patience, dedication and an eye for potential. Those are the same qualities this superintendent has been bringing to the Phoenix Union High School District in Arizona since taking over in 2008.

Lawrence Public Schools is the first district in Kansas to adopt federal sex education standards that go beyond what’s required by the state.

Kansas requires all schools to teach some form of human sexuality and HIV awareness, but doesn’t stipulate a curriculum. The Lawrence school board voted last year to adopt the national standards, which provide a more detailed framework for age-appropriate sex education in K12, says Vanessa Sanburn, vice president of the school board.

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